ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI - DECEMBER 18: Running back Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals fumbles a ball which was recovered by the Bengals in the first half of the game against the St. Louis Rams on December 18, 2011 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)
Pro Football Focus recently took a look at how elusive running backs have been over the past three seasons. When describing exactly what elusive is, they write:
"In essence, a runner can be elusive either by running over or around would-be tacklers. He gets credit for forcing missed tackles however he does it and gets additional credit for earning yards after contact. The better he performs in those areas, the better his Elusive Rating will be. If a runner fails to make people miss, and goes down on contact, he will not score well in this aspect."
The leader in the elusive department over the last three years is Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart. Rounding out the top five were Fred Jackson, Michael Turner, Adrian Peterson, and Marshawn Lynch. How does this story have relevance to the Bengals, you ask?
Well current Bengal BenJarvus Green-Ellis and former Bengal (and possible future Raiders running back) Cedric Benson rank near the bottom of the list, ranking 38 and 40, respectively. In fact, Pro Football Focus mentioned Benson in "The Ugly End" part of the piece. They had this to write about Benson:
"Cedric Benson also ranks in the Bottom 10, perhaps explaining why he has remained unsigned for so long this offseason."
Benson has broken 85 tackles since 2009, while Green-Ellis has only broken 41 tackles. Benson did have 956 touches in that span, while Green-Ellis only saw 459 touches, so obviously the disparity in carries must be accounted for as well. The elusive rating is something that the Bengals do not seem to be too concerned about, as they have other backs on the roster to fill that role in Brian Leonard and Bernard Scott. We think that they are hoping that Green-Ellis can just be ol' reliable, just like his days with New England.